Rookie outside linebacker Samson Ebukam is taking over for the injured Connor Barwin as a starter.
Head coach Sean McVay. confirmed the expected move in his Monday press conference, extolling Ebukam's progress throughout the season.
One of Los Angeles' two draft picks out of Eastern Washington — the other being wideout Cooper Kupp — Ebukam has played well in the defensive rotation, making 2.0 sacks so far this season.
But now No. 50 will be on the field the majority of the time. And he gave a lot of credit to Barwin for being ready to step up at this point.
"I feel pretty confident starting this game. And that's all thanks to Connor," Ebukam said this week. "I'm really sorry that he messed up his forearm how he did, because I don't wish that on anybody to not be able to play on Sundays. But he's still going to be there, he's still going to be telling me what to do, he's still going to be leading — just in a different way."
Ebukam pointed to one comment in particular that Barwin made as to why he's gained more confidence recently.
"The last couple weeks, whenever I make a mistake, he doesn't really get on me about it," Ebukam said. "He just says, 'You know what to do, you just have to calm down and just do your job because you know what to do. Whenever you're asked a question, you always answer it right.' So just him saying that instills confidence in me. And having that kind of confidence from other players — that just makes me play more relaxed and more explosive and make more plays."
"I think [Barwin's] been a huge influence on Samson in a positive way, where you look at a true mentor that's really helped bring him along," McVay said.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips complimented Ebukam's work ethic, adding that he feels like the rookie will step in and continue to play well.
"That [sack] against the Texans — you could see his acceleration, and making a hit on the quarterback, causing the fumble," Phillips said. "So he's got some talent. I think he's ready to go."
Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said he's not expecting any drop-off when it comes to Ebukam's play as compared to Barwin's as a starter.
"He's done well every time he has stepped in and had to play. We don't expect anything different from him this week," Ogletree said. "He's getting the nod to start this week and he's worked really hard to earn that position and earn his keep. So, we expect him to go out there and do what he needs to do to help us win."
What Ebukam has undoubtedly done in his time on the field so far is play with outstanding effort. The outside linebacker takes a lot of pride in that element of his game.
"He told me he was nervous. I said, 'Are you nervous?' He said, 'Heck yeah, I'm nervous.' I said, 'Well you better be!'" Phillips joked. "But he's got a lot of energy."
"I don't really try to say that I'm this type of player, or I'm that type of player. I just try to do what the coaches say, because I trust in the coaches that they put us in the best position to be successful," Ebukam said. "And with coach Wade, he's like, 'We're going to make plays and we're going to miss some. But what really matters is the effort.' Because if you play 100 percent effort all the time, you might make a bust, but you still might make a play just because of the effort. And that's the No. 1 thing. And I think that's why they're confident in me, because I put in the effort."
Kristen Lago contributed reporting.